Monday, February 12, 2007

Quantum leap

D-Wave will demonstrate the world's first commercial quantum computer on Tuesday (Feb 13) at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. If it works, that means it can solve some of the most difficult problems, called NP-complete problems, thousands of times faster than current supercomputers.

Initially, D-Wave (Vancouver, B.C.) will lease time on its quantum computer, which will be accessed over a secure Internet connection. Eventually, the company plans to sell quantum computer systems.

Being able to quickly solve NP-complete problems has enormous consequences. A fairly well-known NP-complete problem is the travelling salesman problem, which has real-world implications for logistics. NP-complete problems are present in such diverse fields as medicine, biology, computing, mathematics, and finance.

Of immediate concern is quantum computers' potential for cryptanalysis (codebreaking).
Specifically, a quantum computer could factor very large numbers in a fraction of the time needed by current computers. That BTW, is just what you need for cracking the RSA cipher and other widely-used ciphers that depend on one-way mathematical functions. Perhaps this will light a fire under quantum cryptography efforts.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Orang-hutang pt. 2

Some good news for taxpayers and other honest debtors. PTPTN higher education loan defaulters will now be on a blacklist to be supplied to banks and credit card companies, as reported by The Star.

Not that I'm trying to take credit for this, but this was exactly what I proposed in my Oct 26 posting.

The immediate effect of this move is, the deadbeats will now have a difficult time getting other loans, including car loans, credit cards, mortgages, etc. Hopefully this will put an end to the idea that these loans are "free money", or that paying debts is "optional".

Note: PTPTN stands for Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional, or the National Higher Education Loan Fund Corporation. It is run by the Public Service Dept (PSD), aka Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam (JPA).